You may have seen the article in the New York Times and The Huffington Post about flossing not being necessary. We have three dentists and eight hygienists here at Deerhaven and they all agree, it is necessary. They see cavities in between the teeth and gum disease in the pockets in between the teeth every day. Dr. Niergarth has seen a drastic decline in cavities over the years among those who have regular dental cleanings and begin flossing every day. Dr. Merrithew estimates that 90 percent of the teeth and gum problems we treat are because of decay in between the teeth. Once a patient who doesn’t floss daily gets a proper dental cleaning and begins to floss daily we see a big improvement in their gums and fewer cavities in between their teeth. According to Dr. Beers if you don’t floss you fail to clean 40% of each tooth.
What causes decay in between our teeth and why doesn’t brushing alone clean our teeth? Brushing is great for removing the plaque, sugars and food from the tops and two sides of our teeth. In layman’s terms the plaque on our teeth combine with the sugar in our food and drink to attack the enamel of our teeth. This colonization of plaque takes about 24 hours to build up and begin their attack, eating away the enamel causing a cavity. By flossing once a day, preferably at night, the plaque is interrupted or removed from in between the teeth. Study or no study, it would be false to say that flossing doesn’t help clean in between the teeth. It is the only way we have to clean there.
It is just as important for you to see your dentist and dental hygienist for regular checkups, cleanings, and to learn proper oral hygiene instruction and to catch decay and gum disease early. There are some picks and floss holders that are effective in helping clean in between the teeth, but flossing still is the best option for today’s patients.